Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Philippine geohazard and assessment map for Region XI

The Philippine Mines and Geosciences Bureau which is under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is working for the completion of geohazard mapping and assessment of the region.

Noel Angeles, officer-in-charge of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of Southern Mindanao bared that Davao Oriental already completed their geohazard and mapping last year while Compostela Valley Province is expected to finish its mapping this year.

He said geohazard mapping is important as it indicates danger zones vulnerable to disasters such as landslides, flashfloods, liquefaction and other natural disasters.

Angeles said that during rainy season, local government units through the hazard map could issue early warning to residents who are living near the critical areas indicated in the geohazard map.

He said the map could also be used for further development plans in the area as it would indicate which of the areas are critical or outside the danger zones.

It may be recalled that in the mining village of Masara in Maco town of Compostela Valley Province, 24 people were killed in a double tragedy (landslide) that killed 24 people early September 2008. Nine others remain missing buried under the rubble of earth and swamped about 83 houses.

The MGB has declared Masara a "high risk area" that could be hit by another landslide and has ordered all residents to move out.

Meanwhile the government is accelerating the conduct of the geohazard mapping throughout the country which is expected to be finished by 2009.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza said the project, conducted by the DENR, through the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), has already completed 75% of its target after covering 1,098 municipalities of the targeted 1,600 municipalities.

In a press statement Atienza said at the rate the national geohazard mapping and assessment activity is now proceeding, he is optimistic that the project will be completed ahead of schedule or by the end of 2009 which is earlier than the 2010 initial target.

He said President Arroyo has approved this year's budget of P60 million for the early completion of the project even as he said that through this map they would ascertain the risks involved in development planning in any area in the country which is the essence of the geohazard map.

As of June this year, 80% of the country's eastern seaboard area has also been covered by the project with only four provinces in four regions still to be covered. These include Isabela and Cagayan in region 2; Masbate in region 5; and Samar in region 8.

He said one of DENR's priority projects was to accelerate the completion of the national geohazard mapping project which is also one of the priority concerns of President Arroyo.

The DENR chief said that the geohazard mapping and assessment are now being conducted in the province of Antique in region 6 after finishing the same tasks in the 41 municipalities in Zamboanga del Sur.

The project is aimed not only in determining the susceptibility of areas prone to landslides, floods, liquefaction, ground subsidence and other ground instabilities but also to identify areas for relocation of residents living in areas prone to landslide, floods and other natural calamities.

Under the project, geohazard maps at the scale of 150,000 will be produced to help individuals identify geologic hazards so that their adverse effects could be mitigated, and prevent the loss of lives and destruction of properties.

Aside from geohazard mapping and assessment activities, the DENR geohazard team also conducts information campaign in the localities covered by the project and identified as under threat by providing them advisories and information materials such as posters, video materials, pamphlets and maps.



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